Pitter-patter

"Ron, what-"

Hermione awoke to find her husband sprawled atop her, which came as a slight surprise, considering what they'd already got up to twice last night. Or had it been this morning?

"Time's it?' she asked as he settled between her knees and began grinding against her knickers. Oh wait, she wasn't wearing any. That must be his knickers. Underpants. She gasped as his mouth found the underside of her breast through the shirt she'd thrown on. That, at least, was really there.

"'Bout three," he slurred, lifting his head and planting stubbly kisses on her neck.

"You're gonna need your sleep," she said, but she tugged his underpants down his thighs. Lean muscle clenched enticingly under her hands.

"Need you more," was his reply into her newly exposed cleavage, and that settled it. How was she going to live without this for the next month? How was she going to wake up every morning and not see him lying in their bed, peeking at her with one bright blue eye, a happy grin curving the bit of his beautiful mouth that wasn't buried against his pillow?

Most of the time when she had these thoughts, she chided herself for being so selfish, considering the fact that Ron was finally pursuing the career he'd wanted for years. He was finally becoming an Auror. For months now, he'd been coming home exhausted, with two huge bags of books and notes to match the ones under his eyes. Training was wiping him out, and he was loving every minute of it.

So of course it made sense that part of the training would require a mock mission. And yes, focus was important, so she understood why he wouldn't be coming home until it was over, and that contact would be reduced to owls, through an intermediary. If anyone got it, Hermione did.

Just...why did it have to be a whole month?

After everything Ron had done, couldn't they just let him skip this part of the training?

Well, the answer to that was obvious, too, but at times like this, when Ron was doing that thing with his fingers that had her literally melting into the mattress, she could indulge in such questions as if they were legitimate ones.

His breath was coming in hot bursts against her skin and she wanted to bottle it up. She'd gone weeks at a time without seeing him after she'd returned to school for her NEWTs. That'd been rough, but it felt like ancient history. Ron was her husband now. She was used to seeing him every day. Touching him. Making love to him. Merlin, it was going to be a long, lonely month.

"Hey, where are you?" asked Ron, pulling back and pausing in his explorations.

"Sorry," she said, reaching between them to show him how interested she was in picking up where they'd left off.

His worried expression became diluted as her distracting hand increased its pace. "Fuck, m'gonna miss you," he said, and she knew that he meant it for more than just her...presently employed talents.

Hermione used her free hand to pull him into a kiss. It was dizzying and hot and everything, being like this with him. Earlier when they'd made love, it'd been lazy and playful. The kind of sex that's a slow build, full of giggling and happy torment.

But now...this was raw, and insistent. Ron's hands, one of which was now holding both of hers above her head, were just on the right side of forceful. Her ankles crossed against the small of his back, and she could feel the slick sweat that pooled there, despite the slight chill that was leeching its way through the windows.

This was...ohhhh...it was fantastic, and there was no room left in her brain for thinking of time, which was slipping through her fingers at this very moment.

Or...maybe it was because of the constant presence of those things that made what they were doing now so deliciously, toe-curlingly brilliant.

As his thrusts grew more erratic, and she grew closer to the time when she'd normally either squeeze her eyes shut from the sensation, or bite into his shoulder, this time she stayed focused on his face. She wanted to burn that expression he was wearing into her mind forever. Ron's hair, dark and matted to his temples. His lips, open and plump and capable of setting her skin on fire. The gasping groans he made as she clenched herself around him. Ron was absolutely magnificent.

That was it. He couldn't go. She would put her foot down.

Right after it was done possessively digging itself into his arse.


"Be safe," Hermione said against his prickly cheek. He'd been so tired that he'd forgot to shave this morning, and she was glad of the sensation his stubble made against her skin. She felt rather silly for thinking it, but the sensation somehow made him feel more solid and real to her at the moment.

"I'll be home before you know it," was his muffled reply, but his voice was a mirror of her own emotions. She squeezed him hard around his skinny middle and handed him his bag, which clunked loudly in a very familiar way.

"You didn't-"

"I did Harry's too," Hermione said quickly, beaming through blurry eyes. She stood on eager tiptoe to meet his lips. The force that they were both putting into this goodbye was taking her breath away, and a tiny part of her brain was shouting for her to tone it down; that this was an embarrassing display. She gave that tiny voice a rude hand gesture and threw herself into snogging her husband with all her energy.

His bag fell heavily beside them, or at least she thought that's what the jarring noise had been, as he wrapped his long arms around her. A few people had begun clearing their throats, but Ron and Hermione paid them no mind. They were completely lost in each other. His mouth was hot, and the way that his tongue was sweeping against the roof of her mouth made her want to Apparate them directly home and try for round four. Instead, she took one last playful bite at his bottom lip, and smoothed down his collar, which had just got a bit wrinkled in her fists.

"Two minutes," said Harry beside them, and Hermione turned and pulled him into a fierce hug, whilst a smirking Ginny did the same with Ron.

"I expect you both home in the same condition you're leaving in, exactly thirty days from now, you hear me Harry? No extending, and no acting on foolhardy impulses, mock mission or no." She sniffed loudly, nearly drowning out the sound of his chuckle.

"Yes, ma'am," he said, doing that half-rub, half-pat thing he always did against her back.

"There's a little extra something in your bag, by the way," she said as they broke apart. He opened his mouth to question her, but Ron tugged his arm and then they were joining the rest of the Auror Squad around the table which held their Portkey.

Ginny slung an arm around Hermione's shoulder as they both watched their husbands touch their fingers to a soiled bit of newspaper, and then disappear in a shrinking pinpoint of light.

"Come to lunch with Luna and me?" asked Ginny, smiling affectionately at her sister-in-law. "I'm meeting her in Hogsmeade."

At least there was someone to commiserate with. And she hadn't seen Luna in ages. Hermione's mind was easily made up.

"Sounds lovely. Lead the way," said Hermione.


"Neville!" said Ginny in pleasant surprise as she and Hermione entered the Three Broomsticks. He ducked out of the doorway to give them both warm hugs.

"Stay and eat with us?" asked Hermione, though he appeared to be slightly anxious about something.

She was right, because next he was saying, "I'm sorry, Hermione, Ginny. It's great to see you, but I only stopped in for a moment. Professor Sprout's put most of the greenhouses in my care, and I've got a new batch of Tentacula in Four that's giving me quite a bit of trouble, so I can't be gone for very long. We'll get together soon, though, I promise. Bye!"

He smiled at them and exited quickly, but not before winking at Luna, who was waving from a corner table. Hmm, interesting, Hermione thought.

"Hello Ginny, hello Hermione. I've just been having a drink with Neville," said Luna, who rose to greet them. She was dressed in what looked like safari gear. The only thing that was missing was a pith helmet. Perhaps she'd stowed it in her bag.

"He met us at the door," replied Ginny, who took the seat across from Luna. "We invited him to stay, but-"

"Oh yes, he's been working very hard lately, since Professor Sprout announced she'd be retiring at the end of the year. I'm very proud of him, but it's been difficult to go out on dates, what with all of the new planting that's been needed."

Ginny and Hermione beamed. "Good on you," said Ginny. "Neville's one of the best there is." Hermione nodded in ready agreement.

"I like him a lot," said Luna, staring out the window as if she could see him. "And I'm not embarrassed to tell you that he's got quite an enormous-"

"Luna!" shouted Ginny and Hermione, giggling.

"—heart," she finished, though she was grinning mischievously.

"Nice," said Ginny, when she could breathe again.

After they'd settled down, and Madam Rosmerta had taken their lunch order, Luna asked about Harry's and Ron's trip.

"They've Portkeyed to an unknown location," confirmed Hermione, sipping at her Butterbeer and wiping the foamy head from her upper lip. "Thirty days with only monitored owls going in and out. I'm really happy for Ron that his training's going so well, but I'm really going to miss him. I do already." She glanced at Ginny who was wearing a knowing smile.

"Oh, sorry Ginny," she continued, "I forgot Harry's already gone through this once already."

"Yeah, but I was at school, so it wasn't too bad. I was sorry to miss out on so many Hogsmeade weekends, though," she said. Now that Hermione was really looking at Ginny, she could swear that her sister-in-law had some sort of secret. Now what could it be?

"Actually," said Ginny after chewing a bite of her sandwich, "I've got an ulterior motive for bringing the two of you here."

Luna looked as unsurprised as Hermione did. "Harry and I have done a lot of talking over the last few months, and we've decided to start trying for a baby."

Hermione's face broke out into a huge grin and reached across the arms of their chairs to throw her arms around Ginny. "That's wonderful news!" squeaked Hermione, and she thought she might've heard Ginny sniffling, though that might have just been as a result of being unexpectedly buried in a wad of mad hair.

"You're all right with giving up on your career so soon?" Hermione asked after pulling back. It wasn't altogether unexpected that they'd be ready to plan a family now. They were all either in or rapidly approaching their mid-twenties, and Harry was well-established at the Auror department. As a matter of fact, Hermione expected that he'd be running the department within the next few years. And Ginny had a few really exciting and successful years with the Harpies under her belt, but that was just it—a few.

"Yeah," said Ginny, and it struck Hermione how much calm Ginny projected these days. The redhead had always been vivacious, and still was, but for some time now she'd also exuded a sort of quiet joy. Perhaps it was due to finally living the life she'd always wanted to live, with Harry by her side. Hermione was thrilled for the both of them.

"I've been ready for a while now, actually, but I only said something to Harry about it recently. It turned out that he'd been thinking a lot about it too."

Luna leaned across the table, her wide eyes shining with happiness for her friend. "You're going to be a really good mum, Ginny," she said. Hermione suspected that Luna was thinking of her own mother.

"Thanks, Luna. And you too, Hermione. I wanted to tell you about it, because, well, I think I might already be. Pregnant."

Hermione looked down at the pumpkin juice in Ginny's glass, to Luna, whose eyes had grown larger still. Merlin's pants!

"Does Harry know?" she blurted, and she reached over to grasp Ginny's hand. She didn't know whether to shriek and hug her again, or be concerned, since Harry was now gone for the same month that Ron was.

Ginny shook her head, and Hermione could see that the corners of her eyes were damp. Oh boy. "I'm not sure yet, and I didn't want to say something that might delay Ron's training. Or the other cadets' for that matter," she said, her free hand slipping down to cover her navel.

"When did you last-" started Hermione.

"Do the spell? About two weeks ago. There was nothing then, of course, but, well, we've been trying quite a lot," she hiccoughed, and Luna scooted her chair around to sit on Ginny's other side. "Anyway," she said, regaining a little composure," for the past few days my breasts have been really sore, and this morning I got sick."

"Why don't we go into the loo and try the spell now?" asked Luna, and Hermione nodded in encouragement.

"All right," said Ginny, and they rose as a trio. Hermione noticed as they walked that Ginny's hand slipped to the small of her back. From the mounting circumstantial evidence at least, it was looking like a bigger and bigger probability that Ginny was. Pregnant. With child. A mother-to-be.

The loo was blissfully empty, and Hermione and Luna stood back as Ginny took out her wand and waved it in the complex zigzag pattern of the Pregnancy Spell. They collectively held their breath as tiny white lights erupted from the tip of her wand and encircled her abdomen, swirling and turning in a clockwise pattern. If they disappeared...nothing. But if they changed to gold, and stayed there until Banished...

"Oh Harry," Ginny said as her knees went out from under her. Hermione quickly conjured a squashy cushion to break her fall, though she did it with shaking hands and tears in her eyes.

She was going to be an Aunt.


"Muffliato," said Harry over his shoulder as he walked into the tiny room they'd be sharing whilst away, and before Ron could do more than look intrigued, Harry spoke.

"So Ginny and I are trying." The words flew out of Harry's mouth like a cork springing from a bottle, and Ron just stared, confused.

"Trying?" he asked expectantly, and Harry's eyes widened. He apparently thought he'd spoken in a complete sentence, the git.

"Yeah."

"You've been trying what? The food at Aberforth's? I thought you knew better than that."

Harry rolled his eyes. "We've been trying to get pregnant."

"On purpose?" It had been the first thing to pop into Ron's mind, even though it was an idiotic thing to ask.

"That's generally how trying works," said Harry, sniggering.

"Wow."

"Yeah."

Ron was more than a little shocked. He was older than Harry, and he wasn't trying. They were still so young.

"But you're still so young," he said.

"I'm supposed to wait till I'm old?" asked Harry with a quizzical look.

"Well not old," said Ron. "Just older."

Harry faced the wall in front of them, but his eyes roamed all over the room. They finally came to rest on his own hands, which were pressed together in his lap.

"I don't feel like I'm too young," said Harry. "And neither does Ginny." The small smile that touched Harry's face rather scared Ron. It was as if Harry could already see the baby there, all born and pink and clinging to his finger with an ickle fist. Ron smiled too.

"Wow," he said again, this time in a whisper. And this time, for different reasons.

"Haven't you and Hermione talked about it?"

"'Course we have," said Ron, and Harry nodded. "We both decided that we'd wait till we were a bit older, and it'd been just us for a while." Quite a lot of time had passed, actually, since the subject had come up. As a matter of fact, he and Hermione had come up with the "when we're a bit older" thing right after they'd got married, but they hadn't really talked about it since then.

Maybe we should?

No, we really should.

What, just because Harry's talking about becoming a father, suddenly you want to as well? Can't think for yourself?

It's not that, it's...the "older" thing had just been knee-jerk. I thought that the idea of becoming a dad would be scary, but now that I'm actually imagining it...well it's still fucking scary, but...

"I respect that," said Harry, interrupting Ron's internal argument. "Especially since you had me as a third wheel."

Ron's jaw dropped open, his brows knitting together. "You weren't a third wheel, Harry. You were and are our best mate. Shit, man, we might've killed each other at first, if you weren't there in the middle. I seem to remember a particularly ugly Third Year. And Sixth. And come to think of it, bits of the First, Second, Fourth-"

Harry laughed, which set Ron's mind at ease. Slightly. "I'm not talking about then. I mean later on, when you wanted to...to...be together." Harry gestured with his open hand to emphasise his point.

"Harry, let me tell you something. Anytime that Hermione and I have wanted to be together as you put it, I assure you that we've had no problem telling you to sod off." Ron quirked an eyebrow at his friend and waited expectantly for the other shoe to drop.

"Eurgh, keep that kind of detail to yourself, Ron. What're you trying to do, put me off food for the whole month we're here?" Harry blanched, but Ron could see the amusement lingering underneath the disdain.

"Whatever," said Ron, countering Harry's disgust with some of his own. "You've essentially just told me that you and my sister have been—Merlin, I can't even say it."

"Very mature, aren't we?" asked Harry, and Ron snorted.

They spent a few minutes getting settled in silence, both reaching for their bags at about the same time. "Holy shit! 'A little extra something' she says." Harry's voice echoed strangely as he peered into the unknown, shadowy depths of what had once been a small knapsack.

"Yeah," said Ron, whose hand had plunged inside his own bag and closed on what felt like a full box of Chocolate Frogs. Oh Hermione, you brilliant woman.

"Y'know, it's really amazing how your wife can still scare me after all these years, mate," said Harry, who was now Levitating what looked like a wardrobe out of his bag. It had glass doors, though, and Ron could see food inside. He smelled his mother's hand in that addition.

"Oh, she still scares me too," replied Ron, taking out a matching wardrobe of healing potions and other hospital supplies. "Me too."


"When are you going to tell your Mum?"

It was a loaded question, and one for which Hermione was unsure of the answer. Telling Molly meant many things, most of which would be wonderful. But Hermione was positive that if Ginny were to tell her now, Molly would be all for telling Harry, despite the fact that doing so might cut the mock mission short, and thus the cadets' training. After all, Harry was one of only two Aurors who were in charge at their location and who knew the specifics of the exercises that had been set.

"Not...yet," Ginny said at last, and Hermione exhaled the breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding.

Something just occurred to Hermione as she watched Ginny fiddling with the sugar bowl. And now she felt awful. "I'm sorry," she said, causing Ginny to give her a questioning look. "About pushing you to do the spell the other day, I mean. I'm sure you would have preferred to tell Harry first."

Ginny's expression softened, and she reached over to grip Hermione's hand. "Oh, don't worry about that, I'd have done it anyway. I'm glad you and Luna were there. In a perfect world, I'd have liked for Harry to know first, but here in reality, well, I'll make a deal with you. When you get pregnant, you have to tell me before you tell Ron."

"I think I can live with that," said Hermione, relieved and laughing.

"So," said Ginny, directing the remnants of tea over to the sink with a flick of her wand, "do you have any idea how long I might have to wait for that news?" She'd kept her tone light, but Hermione could tell that she was burning to know.

"Ron and I haven't discussed it in a few years, but I'm guessing that once we do that again, and as long as we're on the same page, then in a perfect world I'll be telling you in about...a year. Or so." Hermione had been desperately wondering what Ron's thoughts on the subject were, ever since finding out about Ginny. It wasn't that she had a burning desire to be pregnant at the same time, or anything. In fact, she saw them waiting until after Ron was fully qualified as and Auror before even starting to try, and right now that was about eleven months away.

But she really liked the idea of their children growing up together. It was okay of Ginny's child was a year or two older than hers. The cousins could still be close. Cousins. The notion filled Hermione with warmth, and she smiled. It meant a great deal to her that her children would share blood with Harry's children. Harry-the man who for all intents and purposes had been her brother for more than half of her life. And the blood they would share was Weasley blood.

Could life have worked out more perfectly, in the end?

"What's going on in that brain of yours, Mrs Weasley?" asked Ginny, looking amused.

"Oh, nothing, Mrs Potter" Hermione replied. It seemed that now she had her own secret that she wanted to first share with Harry.


Every spare moment that Ron had over the last week, whether whilst eating, showering, or hell, even sleeping, had been spent thinking about the possibility of kids. Was he ready? Was Hermione ready? Ready, ready, ready. Was there even such a beast?

Monetarily, they were cool. Wheezes had gone quite a long way towards making Ron feel comfortable. He wasn't wealthy, but with his salary combined with Hermione's made it more than possible to afford a family.

"A small one," he muttered to the water dappled shower wall in front of him. Hermione had agreed with him right away on that. Two or three children would suit them just fine when the time came.

And now the burning question: Had it finally come?

Thinking about it this much must mean something, right? he thought as he lathered his chest with the strong smelling soap. The water was roaring hot. So hot that Ron's skin was getting blotchy, but he didn't care. There was something about a steaming shower after he'd been sweaty for most of the day that couldn't be topped. Not even an ice cold pumpkin juice was this rejuvenating on days like these.

"You keep this up, Weasley, and we'll be leaving early," said Jennings, stepping beneath the shower head to Ron's left.

"What?" Ron spluttered, whose face and hair were obscured by foam.

"You," repeated Jennings. "I just overheard Wainright telling Potter that we're nearly a week ahead of schedule because of your Switching Spell theory. How did you even think of that?"

Ron rinsed the suds from his eyes and glanced over at Jennings. The bloke didn't appear to be taking the piss, and he didn't seem angry. This training was really important to all of them. The main focus of the mock mission was to get them to work as a cohesive team. The last thing that Ron wanted to do was alienate anyone, but he wanted to prove that he was more than just Harry Potter's friend. He deserved to be here.

"The dossier listed Transfiguration as one of our man's strengths, so I went down the list of possibilities, and Switching Spells sort of jumped off the page at me."

Jennings looked impressed. "Well, whatever you're doing, keep it up. I could definitely use an excuse to get home ahead of schedule. There's this bird I've got my eye on, y'know?"

"Say no more," said Ron with a chuckle as he turned off the spigot and shook the water from his head. He had his own bird to get back to, after all.

Jennings' pep talk seemed to have thrown Ron's adrenaline in to overdrive. Maybe he should take a look at that dossier one more time before bed. And another perusal of the evidence locker wouldn't hurt, either.


Hermione read the same paragraph for the fourth time, but still hadn't gleaned its meaning. "Oh for heaven's sake, get a grip on yourself," she said aloud, startling a group of girls at the table across from hers. The house had felt too quiet and empty without Ron there, so she'd opted for the Library instead, to do her research. Her fingers itched to pick up the first in the other stack of books she'd picked up—the ones that had nothing to do with house-elven genealogy.

She glanced at the work in front of her, and marked her place, giving in to the temptation she'd been fighting futilely for over an hour now. The old tome closed with a pleasant fwump sound, and in no more than a second, she was staring down at the floral design of the first book in the pile's text. "Your Bewitching Pregnancy," she whispered with a smile.

Of course, she was only reading it for Ginny's sake. It wasn't as if she'd spent any of the last week imagining herself pregnant. And she absolutely hadn't looked at any of those maternity robes for selfish reasons. Ginny was a fashionable witch, and would need to be up on the latest styles.

Yes.

Precisely.

Oh, who do I think I'm kidding?

The spine on the book was worn, and had been Spellotaped several times, it seemed. Inhaling that first comforting waft of eau de old book, she skimmed the table of contents and promptly got to reading. It was really fascinating stuff!

Hermione's quill flew over roll after roll of parchment, though she'd already planned to buy an updated copy of this book for herself, as well as Ginny. She was barely a third of the way through the book, and she'd already come across at least a dozen things she'd had no idea about. Pregnancy was one of those things that she'd assumed would be very similar to the Muggle way of life. And in principle it was. But there were so many details that came as a surprise.

Like the spell used to detect the baby's sex. It came as no surprise that one existed, but she was shocked to learn that its use carried with it, "a one-in-ten thousand chance that the infant will be born with a bright green tinge to its skin, which will fade away during the first six months outside the womb."

"Good lord, who wants their baby to be born green?" said Hermione, blanching and putting her hand over her mouth. Was that why Bill and Fleur had opted to be surprised? This was definitely a question for Molly. And she was also curious if it was true what this book said about the possible magical power surges. According to the information in chapter three, a rather unfortunate witch in her third trimester who lived near Kent had actually wandlessly Vanished her husband, because he'd come home drunk after a particularly long Quidditch match. He'd been missing for weeks before he was discovered wandering through Hogsmeade wearing ladies' dress robes and asking to be called Margaret.

It sounded so far fetched, but this was magic. Merlin knew that Hermione had seen stranger things first hand.

Amidst all this bizarre information, though, a thought niggled at the back of Hermione's mind. Before she read anything else, before she set foot in Flourish and Blotts, she really should talk to Ron. On the one hand, there was absolutely nothing wrong with being prepared, even if it turned out that she was preparing herself years ahead of time. It was a principle she'd staked her life on many times. But on the other...now that she'd taken a moment to pause and reflect, it felt like dishonesty somehow, sitting here and plotting out her pregnancy without even consulting her future baby's father.

Ron's slow, easy smile crept into her mind, and she closed the book without reading another word. She did will time to hurry the hell up, though, as she returned her books to their proper places. Three more weeks, only three more weeks, and he'll be home.


"What about Polyjuice Potion? Several people could be posing as the same man," said Stinson, tapping her finger on the enlarged photograph of their prime suspect.

Everyone looked expectantly at Ron. This was getting a little embarrassing. "Could be," he said, more to sound encouraging, rather than because he actually agreed. Harry stared across the table at him, over a sea of bent heads, and grinned. "But I'm still stuck on the idea of Transfiguration," continued Ron. A nameless few amongst them groaned, but the majority of the group looked up at him with interest.

"It could be," he started, flipping open the folder in front of him to the sheaf of parchment that outlined the suspect's family tree, "It could be that we're looking at a family member here, who already looks enough like our man to only need a few minor adjustments. Adjustments that he could easily make with a little Human Transfig."

Jennings nodded appreciatively. "Less time consuming than Polyjuice, surely."

"And no need to keep doing it, either," replied Ron.

"And no reason to keep the real man alive, for the fresh supply of hair." Ron looked up to see the rest of the room looking as grim as he felt. This might be just a practice mission, but the conclusions they were collectively drawing were no less chilling.

"Well done again, Weasley," beamed Wainright. "All that's left to do now is to figure out where our suspect's hiding. With the firebolt job you've been doing so far, I'd say we'll be out of here by Friday. Get some rest, cadets, and we'll pick this back up in the morning."

Ron closed the folder and nodded to a few of the others who slapped him on the back as they passed. One or two looked put out about how much Ron had accomplished in the short time that they'd been here, but he knew his own strengths, and he would play to them as best he could. Sod what the sad minority thought. He had more important things to think about.

"Brilliant job, mate, just brilliant," said Harry as he Noxed the lights and followed Ron towards their room.

"I think Michaels and Bretworth think you're feeding me information under the table." Ron snorted, but still appreciated how affronted Harry looked at that idea.

"Mark my words, Ron. Everyone here is going to know what sort of amazing things you're capable of, and that's all down to you. I'm just a spectator."

As they both stripped down to their boxers and climbed into their respective beds, Ron couldn't help but reflect on what they'd been through to get here. He still felt young, and he knew Harry felt the same, but he had this sense of direction now that he'd been missing for so many years. Maybe this is what maturity really means, he thought.

Fatherhood suddenly seemed a lot less daunting than it had the day before.


"They're what?" squeaked Hermione, her digestive frozen in her hand, halfway to her mouth.

"Coming home tomorrow," said Ginny, equally as surprised. She handed the scrap of parchment which was so small that it could barely be called a letter to Hermione, so that she could read it for herself.

Ron singlehandedly solved the case in half the allotted time! We'll be on the first Portkey home tomorrow. Can't wait to see you. Love, Harry.

"Wow," said Hermione, and Ginny nodded. Ron singlehandedly solved the case in half the allotted time. She was so very proud of him. He was finally doing what he was meant to do, and it was humbling to watch. Hermione dabbed at the corners of her eyes with her napkin, and looked up to see Ginny doing the same.

"Oh, Ginny, I'm so happy for you!" she said, since this also meant that Harry would be finding out the big news tomorrow. And Ron and I will be having a baby talk of our own, as well.

Ginny nodded again, and rubbed her still flat belly. "You've got a really clever Uncle, little one," she said.

And handome, added Hermione, in her mind.

Tomorrow couldn't come fast enough.


"God, tomorrow can't come fast enough," said Ron as he packed the last of his stuff in his bag.

"I know exactly how you feel," said Harry, chewing up the remains of his chocolate frog. He made to crumple the wrapper, but Ron stopped him.

"Hey, who's on the card?"

Harry raised his eyebrows and peeked inside, "Merlin's—why on earth did I ever agree to it?" he asked. He crumpled it for real this time, tossing it towards the bin and missing spectacularly.

"'Cos you knew I'd disown you if you didn't," said Ron.

"Yeah, well let's just see how you feel when it's you that's on it," said Harry, sniggering.

"Fat bloody chance that it'd ever happen, but I'd be thrilled, I'll have you know."

"You deserve it, even if it never does."

"Thanks, Harry," said Ron.

Harry smiled. "Fancy a match?" he said, gesturing to the chess set that Ron hadn't yet tucked into his bag.

"Prepare to be overwhelmed, Potter."

"Only if you prepare to be underwhelmed."

"Wanker."

"Git."

Ron decided that it was good to know that they hadn't yet matured all that much. And he hoped that a part of them never would.


"Missed—you—so—much," said Ron, his sentence punctuated by a series of intensifying kisses. They'd Side-Alonged straight from the Ministry without so much a backwards glance.

"Something I wanna...talk to you...about, Ron," said Hermione, as she was flung onto their bed. Ron had stripped off his shirt and was wriggling out of his jeans, though he was having a bit of trouble, seeing as how his boots were still on.

"Yeah, me too," he said, falling sideways onto the bed as his jeans locked his ankles together. Hermione's shirt joined Ron's on the floor, but she didn't even bother with removing her skirt, choosing instead to just kick off her knickers and scoot backwards towards the pillows.

"I've been thinking," she continued as she pulled her hair into a lopsided bun to get it out of the way. She lost her train of thought momentarily as she watched him struggle with untying the laces on his boots, which had become all knotted in the fray. Hermione knew that she could have his laces undone in a second if she grabbed her wand from the table, but it was enticing to watch all of that lean, sinuous muscle ripple under his freckled skin. She loved the way the narrowness of his hips was the perfect frame for his arse, which dipped down and curved to transform into his long, pale thighs. It was a mesmerising package, to say the least.

"Thinking 'bout what?" he asked, as he gave up and broke the laces with his fingers. Something about the barbaric way he'd done it made her want him even more. There'd be time for examining that thought later. Right now, there were more important things to hand.

"Later," she repeated aloud, but though he'd flung himself onto his back and pulled her atop him, and his hands were now finding all of their favourite haunts, he was still looking at her with that questioning expression.

Was now really the time to bring it up?

"Well," she said, as she straddled his thighs and scooted down to take him in her hands. "About you."

It was a start, she figured.

"Yeah?" he asked, his breath deepening as her fingers caressed and teased their way along his length.

"And about me. Us." What was it about talking like this during sex that was so bloody arousing? Hermione had been more than ready when they'd come through the door, but now? She wanted to pounce on him and not let him up till morning.

"Mmmm, I thought about us, too," he said. He reached his arm up and grabbed the headboard. She could tell that he wanted to thrust upwards, but she wasn't ready to give over control so easily.

"Did you?" she asked, and he nodded. She paused for a moment to lick her palm, then continued. He closed his eyes and moaned, and it was all she could do to keep up her slow and steady pace.

"Oh fuck that's good," he said. That was it-Hermione couldn't wait any longer. In one swift move, she moved up and sank down onto him.

Heaven.

Bliss.

His fingers dug into the soft flesh of her hips as she quickened her pace. Neither of them would last long at this rate, but when she was on top, they never did, and it'd been two weeks since they were together. When Ron opened his eyes to look up at her, she ran her hands over her breasts, and that was his undoing.

They'd be at it again before long. She knew it already in the way that he rolled them over and stayed inside her, once he'd come back to himself.

"I did a lot of thinking too-"

"I've got a secret to tell y-"

"You go first," Hermione said, and Ron laughed, though it came out as more of a sexy chuckle, especially with the way that he was thrusting lazily. Seems round two would begin sooner than anticipated.

"No, you," he said.

She thought it best to save the actual telling for afterwards. Instead, she opted for, "Ron, what would you say if I told you that I was thinking about...us becoming parents?"

He stopped thrusting, but she could feel his pelvis pushing forwards more insistently, almost locking them together. "I'd say that I've been thinking the same thing."

"Really?"

"Yeah."

Their lips met, and this time there was no rush to it. His fingers tugged the band that held her hair up and then he was cradling her head, with his hands and supporting most of his weight on his elbows as he did so. His lips were gentle as their kiss deepened, and she felt the strength of her feelings for him well up within her. It was an uncontrollable thing, like water bubbling up out of the ground, and she was crying happy tears as they began to make love again.

"You all right?" he asked quietly, stroking her thigh and coaxing it up and around his hip. He knew she was from the way she was beaming up at him, but he still felt compelled to ask.

"Never better," she said. All she knew was that she loved him with all of herself, and that he felt the same. And if that love could come together and start their family, then she was the luckiest woman in the world.

The absolute luckiest.